Flirting with the Five Senses
When you are working out the feel or theme of your party, remember to consider all five senses. If you are able to design an environment that engages all the senses and you are able to anticipate the needs and desires of your guests, the event will be a truly memorable experience for everyone.
Whether you are trying to make an emotional connection with your guests, encouraging them to think about something a bit differently, attempting to evoke a sense of nostalgia, creating a sense of luxury and exclusivity, or simply designing a fun, open atmosphere; the more you flirt with all five senses the stronger the impact and connection developed with your guests will be.
First impressions are critical to pulling your guests into the atmosphere and mood of the event. No matter what theme or feel you are trying to achieve, the first impression must be exciting, engaging and intriguing.
Below are some overarching elements I start with when designing an event, each is directly related to the sensory design of the event.
• Color palette: different colors invoke different emotions. This is a big one, because it will have an impact on everything from decor to lighting to menu design.
• Event flow: the schedule of event happenings and the layout of the space and activities. This will determine the event’s pace and how you will move guests throughout the party.
• Interactive elements: get your guests involved and engaged. Dancing, some creative staffing, board games in lounges, charity auction, interactive performances, art creation, competitions, lessons, photo booths, ping pong, and the list goes on…
In addition to these overarching considerations, think about each sense individually and how you can add additional elements to the event design to further enhance your sensory communication with guests. All of these elements are pivotal to invoking feeling, thought, and mood.
• Sight: lighting, décor, colors, layout…you can get a real sense of movement using these elements. Lighting is also very helpful when it comes to the overall event flow. By using different colors at different intensities, you can really move guests around the event.
• Sound: music, effects, volume, vibrations…you set the tone and the energy of the room with your sonic selections. Think about using a “signature” sound effect to draw attention to different happenings throughout the event.
• Touch: textures, comfort, climate…this is all about how your guests interact with the environment. This is a big thing to consider when you are designing the layout. The more comfy the space, the longer guests will linger in any given area.
• Taste: balance…I’m always trying to find the perfect balance between sour, salty, sweet, and bitter during menu designs and beverage selections. Don’t forget the folks that have special dietary needs!
• Smell: fragrance, emotion, ambiance…this sense is under-rated and powerful. Of all our senses, the sense of smell is most closely linked to emotion and memory. You can use something as simple as burning incense or candles to something far more complex like computer controlled scent machines to enhance your environment. A very important word to keep in mind while you are warming, spritzing, burning, and programming is SUBTLTY. You don’t want to overpower or offend any guests with sensitivity to scents. This could just be the extra touch needed to set the mood.
No matter what size party, successfully immersing your guests into your designed environment by engaging all five of their senses will ensure it will be an experience guests are not soon to forget. You will have connected with them on a whole other level!
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